Late last night the Supreme Court heeded a petition for clemency for Duane Buck and indefinitely halted his execution pending a review. They intervened just before the execution was to take place; Buck had already eaten his last meal.
This is a temporary stay of execution, but still as Mother Jones says: “a victory of sorts.” Of the 31 people whose sentences Governor Perry has commuted, 30 of them were because of Supreme Court interventions.
The issue at hand here is not the execution of a minor or someone mentally handicapped, nor is it actually much of a question of his guilt. One of the key elements in the obtainment of a capital sentencing for Buck was a psychologist’s testimony during trial that Buck’s race made him more dangerous and more likely to be a repeat offender. This was cited as proof of “future dangerousness,” which is needed in Texas for the death penalty.
As MoJo also points out, his innocence wouldn’t necessarily hold much sway for Perry, who executed Cameron Todd Willingham in 2004, for whom there was “compelling evidence that the state had sentenced an innocent man to die.” This surely further highlights the issue of the death penalty in Perry’s campaign, and more seriously calls to light the issue of race in relation to it.
It is hard for me not to interpret this as a willful distortion of the penal system for some sick notion of social cleansing. And I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that of a system that willingly takes as evidence for capital punishment the fact of a defendant’s race.
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- pol102 said: Sadly, I think this actually strengthens Perry’s campaign. His base loves that he executes lots of people, hates federal “interference”, and will claim it’s not about race (wink, wink). Color me cynical, but this helps Perry.
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- mrwthepoet said: I’m from Austin, Perry puts the state to shame.
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